On March 24, Lehigh students were among the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. and in cities across the United States to demand stricter gun laws in the March For Our Lives demonstration.
According to its website, March For Our Lives is a movement “created by, inspired by and led by students of all ethnicities, religions and sexualities across the country.”
The Brown and White spoke with several Lehigh students who attended the march or are passionate about gun reform and learned more about their perspectives and experiences. Click on each students’ photo to listen to why they marched:
Sara Boyd, ’21, a photographer for The Brown and White, Chloe Sider, ’21, and Ryan Bailey, ’21, initially created Lehigh For Our Lives to encourage and bring students to Washington D.C. to attend March for Our Lives. Nearly 140 students woke up before 4 a.m. to travel together to D.C to march for gun reform, awareness and safety.
Now, the three are focusing on their new organization SPAC — the Student Political Action Committee. They created SPAC to emphasize the youth voice in politics and motivate students to participate in mass movements that matter to them.
Sara Boyd, ’21: “I marched because my hometown has been the site of a mass shooting… I felt a responsibility to take part in this movement, because if I didn’t contribute my voice, how could I expect anyone else to contribute theirs.”
Ryan Bailey, ’21: “I marched because on the day of the Parkland shooting, on CNN they said, ‘Nothing will result from this. This is just another mass shooting, and this is the way American life will go on,” and I really refuse to accept that. I don’t want my children to grow up with the same fear we have to grow up with in public schools.”
Chloe Sider, ’21: “I marched just because of the fact that I’m fed up. I’m done with senseless violence, and the fact that high schools students got together to organize this mass movement — which was the biggest single-day protest in Washington D.C. in history — is moving. So long, it’s been the youth that bring the nation’s problems to light…This reminded me of the ’60s when college students rose up and addressed problems…”
Dani Okun, ’21: “I marched because no student, especially one under the age of 18, should have to go through what the students at Parkland had to go through, or at Sandy Hook, or any of the schools this has happened at. One of my mom’s best college friends raised (her) children in Parkland and moved two years before the shooting happened. That high school is where her kids went to school… It is personal, and it was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done — to go down to D.C. and march with 800,000 plus people.”
On Feb. 14, Hunter Askenase, ‘20, lost his friend and mentor, Scott Beigel, in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Askenase looked up to Beigel as a summer camp counselor for at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania. The two worked together for four summers at Camp Starlight.
Askenase said it was Beigel’s selfless actions that saved the lives of some Parkland students.
“He was protecting his students and letting in other students that were running in from the hallways — away from the shooter,” Askenase said.
Beigel was shot and killed while closing the door.
Askenase said the outbreak of high school shootings and increase of gun violence never previously crossed his mind — until Parkland. After losing his friend, he was inspired to take action. Although Askenase did not participate in March For Our Lives, he came up with another idea.
Askenase and his brothers in Delta Chi Fraternity are hosting a 3v3 basketball tournament in Grace Hall on April 8 at 5 p.m.
“We wanted to have a little bit of fun while making a difference,” Askenase said.
All proceeds will go directly to the GoFundMe that has been created for the families of the victims of the Parkland shooting. The GoFundMe has currently raised more than $6.5 million dollars.
“No matter how small it is, any difference that anyone can make is a great help,” Askenase said.
Hunter Askenase, ’20: “…It’s beautiful — the kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas are getting so much recognition, rightfully so, because they’re using their resources… to make a difference in an issue that so many places in the world, like South Chicago, and all these places that are inexplicably more affected by gun violence than a place like Parkland, Florida…”
Raina McKoen, ’21: “I marched because I always thought the issue was important and I’ve always been like, ‘We should do more than just think about it.’ But, when (Parkland happened), I sat down and thought about it happening at my younger sister’s school… I shouldn’t have to think about that…”
Lauren Ludwig, ’21: “It was very moving, hearing all those people talk and seeing all the artists perform. It was really intense…”